Functional training has become a very popular term in the fitness industry in recent years. But what exactly does functional training mean? Isn’t all training performing some sort of function?
Yes, it is. However, functional training, as it pertains to improving your fitness is a little more subtle than that. Functional training conditions you to perform the actions of daily life more effectively and efficiently. The main focus of functional training is a way to maintain or improve an individual’s quality of life.
Think of functional training as training an entire movement not just a specific muscle. Functional training should be thought of in terms of a movement continuum. Humans perform a wide range of movement activities every day, such as walking, jogging, running, sprinting, jumping, lifting, pushing, pulling, bending, twisting, turning, standing, starting, stopping, climbing and lunging. Every single one of these movements requires a smooth, rhythmic motion in each of the three cardinal planes of movement – sagittal, frontal and transverse.
Isolating joints and muscles, train only the muscles, not the movements, resulting in less functional improvements. For example, squats have a greater transfer effect on improving an individual’s ability to stand from seated, than knee extensions. Therefore, functional training includes multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises, because more often than not we use the whole body during daily activities rather than individual body parts only.
Using more than one muscle group at a time during exercise challenges the cardiovascular system to work harder, increasing cardio fitness levels as well as promoting:
Increased flexibility and coordination
Improved balance and posture
Reduced risk of injury
Increased calorie burn
Maximum workout efficiency
In a recent interview, Tony Gentilcore, a strength and conditioning specialist said that “for 90 per cent of people, 90 per cent of the time, functional training is the way to go, resulting in a greater neuromuscular and cardiovascular challenge and potentially greater gains, as well.”
Training to improve functional strength isn’t just about increasing the force-producing capability of a muscle or muscle groups. Rather, it enhances the coordinated working relationship between the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems.
Exercises on the traditional strength machines are considered the low-end of the functional training continuum because they isolate muscles in a stabilised, controlled environment. Although these machine-based exercises are not the best way to transfer performance from the weights room to the real world, it doesn’t mean such exercises should be disregarded.
For example, non-functional, single joint exercises can play a critical part in helping to strengthen a weak element that a person may have, to restore proper muscle balance, and therefore allows an individual to safely and effectively participate in functional training activities while also reducing the risk of injury.
In short, functional training helps you build strength, power, and mobility that translates beyond the gym. It’s “real world” fitness, which is why functional training is great for everybody. Whether you are just starting out in fitness or a seasoned athlete, adding some functional training to your life can be beneficial to your day to day life.
Urth Fitness offer function training classes – PowerCamp. Why not try out one of our PowerCamp classes, run by our exceptionally educated trainers, who stand by the philosophy of the truth, science and passion, to develop the best program for your needs and ability. Urth Fitness is a balanced and complete fitness experience, like never before. Along with the functional training classes, we offer Yoga classes, spa facilities and a state of the art fitness studio – everything your body and mind needs to stay balanced, all in a boutique studio environment.